Fact Check: Egyptian President Did NOT Threaten Ravaging Nation If Countrymen Failed To Re-Elect Him

Fact Check

  • by: Jamal Halaby
Fact Check: Egyptian President Did NOT Threaten Ravaging Nation If Countrymen Failed To Re-Elect Him No Threat

Did Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi threaten his subjects that he would destroy the country if they failed to re-elect him for a third six-year term in the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for December 10 to December 12, 2023? No, that's not true: El-Sisi said in Cairo on September 30, 2023, that if his countrymen were unhappy with his leadership or policies, "you have the chance to change (the leadership) in the upcoming elections." His comments were recorded and posted by the presidential palace on YouTube and the website of the Egyptian Presidency.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) on TikTok on October 3, 2023, under the title "Egypt can't withstand to be ruled by a general who believes in Tramadol (pain killer) as a way for change" (Arabic translated to English by Lead Stories staff). The reference to general is the president's military background, as he holds the rank of field marshal, according to the Egyptian e-news Ahram Online. Tramadol, sold under the brand name Ultram, among others, is an opioid painkiller used to treat moderately severe pain, according to the respected online pharmaceutical encyclopedia Drugs.com.

The Arabic video showed a 59-second clip from the popular Egyptian talk show "Akher Kalam," presented by TV host Youssri Fouda. He launched a scathing attack on el-Sisi for his comments at the National Development Conference in Cairo, which were widely interpreted as a threat to Egyptians. On the second day of the conference, titled "The Story of a Homeland," on October 1, 2023, el-Sisi spoke about his concerns about the domestic economic crisis, caused in part by global inflation, and its impact on his nation's security. He suggested that a dent in the pockets of Egyptians could be exploited, especially by luring the underprivileged and unemployed with money and drugs to take to the streets and create chaos.

Speaking metaphorically in impromptu comments in Egyptian Arabic slang, posted on YouTube by the Egyptian Presidency, el-Sisi said (Arabic translated to English by Lead Stories staff):

I talked with the honorable members of the higher judicial council this morning and I told them 'imagine that I can destroy Egypt' with 2 billion (Egyptian) pounds ($64.9 million)'? They were very surprised. I told them 'I'd give a (piece of hash), 20 pounds (65 cents) and a sachet of Tramadol to each of the 100,000 people whose condition is dire and ask them to pour into the streets to create a situation.'

"Would you destroy the country you want to rule?" el-Sisi pondered in another conference session on October 1, 2023, according to a video posted on the Presidency website (Arabic translated to English by Lead Stories staff).

Fouda, the TV host, said on the "Akher Kalam" talk show:

Egypt can't withstand to be ruled by monkeys for a third time ... Egypt won't tolerate Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi any longer ... the imminent end of the general is under the feet of the Egyptian people.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Akher Kalam on Sisi.jpg

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Thu Oct 5 11:29:25 2023 UTC)

The popular Alarabiya news television channel said el-Sisi's comment on drugs and money was an implicit reference to his opponents and that it meant that Egypt "could witness unrest and chaos that will last for weeks by mobilizing 100,000 people in very difficult circumstances in exchange for money and narcotic substances, including the drug Tramadol."

The Banker, an Egypt-based e-financial news website with credible information on state policies, said el-Sisi sounded the alarm that his opponents may try to "destabilize" the country in the coming weeks while the state is preoccupied with preparations for the elections. "He meant his words to send a very important message to the Egyptians, which is (there) could be a scenario to be executed in the coming days before the elections."

The Egyptian Presidency and the state Middle East News Agency did not explain el-Sisi's comments.

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  Jamal Halaby

Jamal Halaby is a fact-checker, who has been working with Lead Stories for nearly two years, helping bring the truth and factual information to the organization's global audience. With extensive background in investigative journalism and content writing and editing in Arabic and English, Jamal uses that experience to expose a burgeoning market of misinformation and disinformation. Previously, he worked as a writer for the Associated Press and several other reputable international news organizations. He has a passion for empirical analysis and discerning the veracity of the news.

Read more about or contact Jamal Halaby

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